I have so much for which to be thankful. Don't you?
This Thursday all across this country we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. This has been a tough year for many people. Just about everyone has been faced with examining their priorities. Many people may feel like they do not have much for which to be thankful. A lot of people have lost their jobs. Thousands of homes have been foreclosed. Retirement funds and savings accounts have dwindled.
In reality some of us are more fortunate than others. Our circumstances are more pleasant. Our resources are more sufficient.
Do we give thanks only when times are good? Or is there always reason for thanksgiving? While it is not necessary to give thanks for our circumstances, it is always appropriate to give thanks in our circumstances.
Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought, "Certainly the preacher won't think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this." Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, "We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this."
I am grateful for God's blessings in my life and at the moment my life is good. I have a job. I still own a house (and a mortgage). There is food on my table and I have a warm dry place to sleep. My family is scattered across the globe but we love and support each other. My health is good. My retirement account is recovering. It is easy for me to give thanks.
Paul instructed us to "give thanks in everything for this is the will of God concerning you." He was not suggesting that everything that comes our way is the will of God. Many situations are simply the results of bad decisions by us or others. Tragic circumstances occur because of the evil in the world. Everything is not the will of God. But I believe that it is the will of God that we demonstrate an attitude of gratitude at all times.
We have faced hard times this past year and more difficulties will probably come along in the future but a spirit of thanksgiving is still appropriate. The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, spoke to people who were in very difficult circumstances. In desperate time when his food source was scarce and his livelihood in doubt, he said "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:18).
One of my favorite hymns was written by a German pastor in 1636. Martin Rinkart had buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, an average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness he sat down and wrote these words as a table grace for his children: "Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices; Who wondrous things had done; In whom His world rejoices. Who, from our mother's arms hath led us on our way with countless gifts of love and still is ours today."
Whatever our circumstances let us give thanks to God--today and every day.